To Shoot The Crow

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To Shoot The Crow : Phrases


I am going to leave.


They're looking for us - looks like it's time
to shoot the crow.


In Tobias Dantzig's
Number and the Language of Science, Dantzig tells the story of a crow who had built its nest in the watch-tower on a squire's estate. The squire was determined to shoot the crow, but the crow was too canny - whenever the squire or his men would enter the tower, the crow would fly away until the coast was clear. The squire tried sending two men went into the barn. One stayed hidden in the tower and one came out again. However, the crow was too smart and wouldn't return until the second man also came out. The experiment was tried on successive days - unsuccessfully - until finally five men went in and only four came out. The crow seemed to think that all the men had come out, and returned to the watch-tower. The squire was finally rid of the crow. The story seems to demonstrate that crows (or at least the crow in the story) have a sense of one, two, three and many. When five men went in and four came out, the crows saw many go in and many go out and thought they were safe. Early twentieth century anthropologists found that the numeric systems of some African, South American, Oceanic and Australian cultures were also limited like the crows. In the case of the Australian Aborigines, they had numbers for one through six and many.

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